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BJP differs with RSS on caste-based census

Monday, May 24, 2010 12:34:44 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Differences have cropped up between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayayamsewak Sangh (RSS) over inclusion of caste in the census with the RSS opposing the move. The BJP said it would discuss the matter to resolve the issue.

The RSS, in a statement issued by its general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi Saturday, opposed the idea of caste-based census. Any such step will be against the vision of a casteless society propounded by constitution makers like B.R. Ambedkar, it said. The organisation is considered the ideological source of the BJP.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told IANS: "The RSS has given its official view on caste-based census. The party leadership will talk to the Sangh on the issue."

She said the party has favoured caste-based census as the government agencies did not have a concrete database for welfare measures concerning educationally backward classes.

"The welfare measures are based on sample survey or smaller studies and are not based on reliable, actual data. Therefore, it is important to obtain data," she said.

Asked if the BJP will change its position in view of the Sangh's opposition to caste-based census, the spokesperson said she will not pre-judge the issue.

"Let's see what comes out. Let's talk first," she said.

In the RSS statement, Joshi said: "Right from the beginning, RSS has been working for creation of a casteless society. Any demand for caste-based census will weaken efforts being made for social unity."

Suggesting a nation-wide debate on caste-based census, the RSS said the provisions of constitution should be kept in mind while taking any decision on the issue and that some other yardstick should be adopted to meet requirements of reservation for OBCs belonging to the Hindu community.

Prime Minister Monmohan Singh told parliament earlier this month that the government was aware of the views of the members on caste-based census and will take a decision soon. The assurance came after members from the BJP, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal and some other parties demanded a caste-based census.

The RSS also said that the National Population Register (NPR), for which information was being obtained during the census, should not be the basis for making multi-purpose identity cards.

It said that I-cards should only be given after ascertaining citizenship of the person.

"The process for NPR enumeration does not have a provision to keep out people staying illegally in the country. It can be a threat to the country's security," the RSS said, adding that the government should implement a decision taken in 2003 to prepare a national register of citizens.




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